Founder, Refuge for the Refugees
Heidy Quah advocates for the rights of refugees
At only 18, Heidy Quah woke up to the privilege that she has had in her life, after seeing the circumstances and everyday challenges faced by students at the refugee school where she was a volunteer English teacher. The human-rights activist in her sprang into action when the school was in danger of being shut down from lack of funding. By raising funds over social media and selling food door-to-door, Quah kept the school operating for another six months.
In 2012, she established Refuge for Refugees, aimed at providing refugees access to basic education and healthcare. It later grew into a one-stop centre that additionally advocated for the rights of refugees in Malaysia, provided vocational and entrepreneurship training programmes to enable them to sustain themselves, and rescued refugees from detention camps and human-trafficking syndicates.
All this while, Quah managed to finish university, gain a degree in accounting and finance, and expand the support of her NGO to 35 schools, two shelter homes and a social business school across Malaysia and Myanmar. In recognition for her work to champion and support refugees, Quah was presented the Queen’s Young Leader Award, becoming the first Malaysian to be presented the honour.
Besides managing Refuge for Refugees, Quah is also an associate professor at Taylor’s University and an associate supervisor at Australian Catholic University.
South-East Asia Women of The Future Award
Queen’s Young Leader Award
Did You Know?
Quah trained in Muay Thai to protect herself after her rescue work exposed her to danger with trafficking rings.